The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Payne, Arthur Frederick
Record 1 of 3

System Number: 09389
Date: 11 December 1867
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Michael Rossetti[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][2]
Document Type: ALS


2 Lindsey Row -
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

Wednesday - Dec 11 / 67

Dear William -

Just got your note - am so glad you will come tomorrow - 7. o'clock is quite right - I have written to ask Tebbs[3] and Holmes[4] and Payne[5] - Perhaps you have not seen the placard[6] in the reading room at the club[7]! You may have supposed like Gabriel[8] that they would not do it - and judged also by the tone of the printed note[9] - but they have though! and this very omission [p. 2] of my name from the printed circular makes the affichéing of my name in the club room all the more rascally!! -

Don't you see that while they insult me at their ease like cowards, they also avoid giving the interest[10] to the general meeting that might bring people, by thus leaving out my name from their circulars - But - tant mieux![11] - "lay low" is our game say nothing! - nothing could be better for our side than this gross line they pursue! - the coarser they are the better - only let us be quiet until the day - I will broil them! Look what blundering boors! Why not content [p. 3] with their outrageous placard in the Club room, they have the egregious folly to print for their circular the very thing that they ought to have put up in the club room, sending the other out as their circular! My dear William I also hear rumours of disaffection in the enemy's camp!

I verrily believe that I shall trample upon[12] them - that I shall bring the horrible blush of shame upon the cheeks of the swells God save them! - Only mon cher - quiet is the dodge

If you see Tebbs tell him to say nothing - the foe must go complacently on - Enfin!

Ever Yours

Jim Whistler

Keep your printed notice of the Genl meeting as I have no longer mine, and want one -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.   William Michael Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

2.  [Published]
Location of original unknown. Published in Christie's New York, sale catalogue, 14 May 1985, lot 110, and in Sotheby's New York, sale catalogue, 17 December 1992, lot 248.

3.  Tebbs
Henry Virtue Tebbs (b. ca 1846), solicitor, proctor and notary [more].

4.  Holmes
Perhaps Richard Rivington Holmes (1835-1911), Librarian at Windsor Castle and Sergeant at Arms to Queen Victoria [more].

5.  Payne
Perhaps Arthur Frederick Payne (b. 1835 or 1836), etcher and painter [more].

6.  placard
The placard related to the Club's threat to expell JW. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died on a trip to Paris, allegedly in a brothel. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later claimed that in the resulting confrontation, JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (#02240). On 11 June 1867, JW received a request for his resignation from the Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). However JW, aggrieved with the summary way in which he felt the Club had treated him, refused to entertain the charges against him, claiming the Club had no right to interfere in a private matter (see JW to L. Huth, #02240).

7.  club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs, founded in early 1866.

8.  Gabriel
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

9.  note
Probably a reference to #00445, a circular to member of the club requesting their attendance at a Special General Meeting on 13 December 1867 to consider a motion to expel JW from the club. As he indicates, JW's name was omitted from the circular but was displayed ('affiché') in the club.

10.  interest
At least fifteen members had to attend a Special General Meeting (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). JW seems to have feared that the omission of his name from the printed circular would discourage his supporters (including the Rossettis) from attending.

11.  tant mieux!
Fr., so much the better!

12.  trample upon
JW's efforts to defend himself were unsuccessful and he was expelled from the Club at the meeting on 13 December. D. G. Rossetti and W. M. Rossetti resigned as a gesture of support.